UPDATED With More Details: I’ve just confirmed the name with Disney. Drumroll, please: it’s MT Carney, the Scottish-born co-founder and owner of Naked Communications, a NYC-based media planning and strategy that specializes in viewing the new marketing landscape from a global perspective, and former Ogilvy worldwide planning director from 2003-2006. Clients at her Naked company (whose motto is “The Agency Model Stripped Naked”) included Coca-Cola, Nokia, and NBC. Her appointment follows an exhaustive 5-months-long search and was going to be announced Thursday when Disney Studios boss Rich Ross has scheduled a dog-and-pony show for the press for him and perhaps his No. 2 Sean Bailey to discuss Disney’s movie plans under the new regime. (Even though it has not greenlighted a movie yet.) But back to Carney, who according to the latest plans won’t appear at Thursday’s presentation to the media.
Much has been made of the fact that Ross wanted to hire a marketing boss outside of the movie business. That caused a ton of grumbling within Hollywood where movie marketing has always been seen as a specialized skill set carried out by an elite clique of veterans. Many marketers called me to complain Ross is arrogant on the subject. But one of my Disney sources insists that “Rich looked both inside and outside the biz, and spoke to movie marketing and non-movie marketing people.”
What Ross wanted was “somebody who could handle the strategy of releasing films as well as home entertainment in order to ensure very strong marketing throughout the life of the product.”
I’ve learned Ross and his headhunter, the NY- and LA-based executive search firm ML Search, spoke to inside Hollywood candidates, but many were already under contract, as well as outsiders at companies including Microsoft and Burger King. (Hmm, years ago, Disney hired Burger King guy John Cywinski, and Warners hired Brad Ball from MacDonalds. Both didn’t last.) Finally, Ross whittled down the candidates to a group of finalists who went before a “committee” (more like a gauntlet) of Disney executives and creatives like DreamWorks CEO Stacey Snider and Disney mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Sean Bailey, the newly named head of production at the Disney movie studios. (Marvel’s Kevin Feig and Pixar’s Jon Lasseter were not part of the panel, though Jon had input as he does in most everything.)
Carney stood out because “she was someone who Rich felt understood strategy and creative,” a source tells me. “Also, she’s Scottish and worked in the UK and U.S., so she understood the global marketplace as well as domestic.”
Carney is known for giving provocative speeches and pitches with the theme that “it’s time to re-think how products, services and brands are connected to their consumers”. Her view is that many traditional ad agencies are unable to adapt with the changing landscape of marketing and communications. One account I read said her firm, Naked, has “positioned itself as a pure (or nearly pure) strategy group, not touching the creative or media (in most cases.) Naked works both directly with clients and as an adjunct to some well known agencies to fill those gaps particular to specific brands, audiences and situations.”
Her phraseology includes “Mapping The Customer Journey”, “Four-Dimensional Storytelling”, and “Fleet Of Foot, Pure Of Heart”. She is described in the ad press as “bright and personable”, also “tremendously insightful”, with a heavy Scottish accent.
Her job at Disney primarily will consist of “balancing multiple clients” who put movies into the Disney pipeline — Pixar, Bruckheimer, DreamWorks (not until 2011), and Marvel (in 2012). Ross feels he already inherited a strong marketing team – after all, 3D Alice In Wonderland is closing in on $1 billion worldwide grosses – so didn’t need that kind of redundancy in Carney. “She’s smart and thinks broadly,” a source tells me. “She also loves movies.”